Irish abroad: Caoimhin Kelleher leads the way on great weekend for Ireland players
This weekend saw Irish players flourish across Europe.
It was a great weekend to be an Irish supporter as Caoimhin Kelleher won the Carabao Cup, Matt Doherty returned to form in the Premier League scoring, and there were also man-of-the-match performances from Republic of Ireland players.
Caoimhin Kelleher Carabao Cup heroics.
The Corkman kept a clean sheet against Chelsea for 120 minutes as Liverpool won the Carabao Cup on penalties.
The 23-year-old dispatched his penalty with composure as Liverpool won 11-10 following Kepa Arrizabalaga's miss. Kelleher became the first Irish player since James McCarthy in 2013 to win a major final at Wembley.
Jurgen Klopp was full of praise for Kelleher after the game saying the Irish international is the best backup goalkeeper in the world.
The Liverpool boss was vindicated after his decision to start the 23-year-old in the cup final. Kelleher's display will surely have caught the attention of Stephen Kenny, and he will have increased his chances of dislodging Gavin Bazunu as the national team's number one.
"To be honest for me Caoimhin Kelleher is the best number-two goalie in the world," Klopp said.
"The game he played was absolutely incredible. I can remember at least two incredible saves, and probably there were more."
"So he proved that the decision to line him up was absolutely right."
— Empire of the Kop (@empireofthekop) February 27, 2022
Matt Doherty scores for Spurs.
Matt Doherty scored his first goal for Spurs on Saturday as they beat Leeds United 4-0. The former Bohemians defender also registered an assist in what was arguably his best performance in a Tottenham jersey.
The 30-year-old played the full 90 minutes for Antonio Conte's side as they went seventh in the Premier League.
Spurs forward Heung-Min Son told BT Sport after the game that Doherty deserves a chance in the team.
“I’m very happy for him," Son said about the Irishman after the win at Elland Road.
"He’s had a tough time so far, but I always talk about him and say that he deserves a goal and a good game.
“But today he showed what a player he can be, and how he can help the team. I’m very, very happy for him and I hope he continues to work like this and he helps the team.”
Josh Cullen's passing excellence.
The Anderlecht midfielder played the full 90 minutes in a 0-0 draw against OH Leuven. It wasn't exactly a memorable game, but the West Ham academy graduate finished the match with a 98% pass completion rate, and, unsurprisingly, played the most passes on the pitch with 78.
Cullen has been a mainstay in midfield for the Belgian side and the Republic of Ireland this season. His ability on the ball is a vital asset at club and international level and he is benefitting from an extended run in the first team.
The 25-year-old signed for Anderlecht from West Ham for a bargain of £900,000 in 2020. If he keeps up his rich run of form, there will surely be interest from English clubs.
🇮🇪 Josh Cullen fighting for the badge like always. We go again on thursday in the semi final of the cup. pic.twitter.com/TC6a7VyQui
— RSC Anderlecht English 🏴 (@RscAnderlechtEN) February 26, 2022
Mark Travers - another man-of-the-match award.
The Leixlip man impressed again in nets for Bournemouth as they beat Stoke City 2-1 at Dean Court in the Championship.
The Ireland international was voted the fans' man-of-the-match for the fourth game in a row. Bournemouth fans have compared Travers to Arsenal's Aaron Ramsdale, who played for the Cherries in the Premier League.
Despite Newcastle United's Freddie Woodman joining the club on loan, Scott Parker has emphasised that Travers is the first choice but needs competition to thrive on the pitch.
"Travs has got the shirt at the moment. Travs has done extremely well, incredibly well," Parker said.
"I’m looking for Trav to react in the right way, which he has done throughout this season. He’s been incredible. I’m seeing someone grow and grow. So it is good competition there for us."
— AFC Bournemouth 🍒 (@afcbournemouth) February 27, 2022
Ronan Curtis lights up League 1.
Elsewhere, Ronan Curtis converted a penalty for Portsmouth in a 3-3 draw with Charlton Athletic. The former Derry City midfielder also recorded an assist in a six-goal thriller at Fratton Park.
Portsmouth manager Danny Crowley was delighted with the Irish international's performance. However, he was furious with the referee over the two-game ban Curtis must now serve.
"Second half, I thought he was excellent. I think Ronan has got great personality."
"He’s got a booking now which means he’s got a two-game ban, which is just ridiculous because he gets absolutely wiped out.
"He gets wiped out and then he gets booked for simulation, it’s beyond laughable really. He’s a big player for us, so we’ll miss him obviously."